As the gap between East and West seems to grow ever wider in Europe, thanks to the strange cycles of the moon Eastern Orthodox Easter and Western Easter fell on the same day this year: the 20th of April. And I think we should have used all the diplomatic lightness and soft shades of power that this often overlooked religious festival offers.
Firstly as somebody who is an abject hater of Christmas, I have something of a bias when praising the strengths of Easter. To start with – if we perhaps sidestep those strictly catholic reminders of pain, sacrifice and rebirth – Easter visuals are completely adorable. Apart from on certain flags (Portugal, Italy) I think the colours red and green are an almost unashamedly bad combination. And so the yuletide colour scheme, with or without gold trimming, has always left me rather cold. Enter spring! With its yolky yellows, baby blues and powder pinks. If there was a set of colours to sooth the mind and soul then the colour scheme of Easter is it.
Aesthetics aside, there is also something naïve about Easter. Whereas your loveable brat might demand the very latest in toy tech at Christmas, at Easter he’s more than likely to be content with being given the task of painting a chicken’s egg – you can maybe give him a chocolate rabbit if he’s good afterwards. Simple pleasures and discreet childhood indulgences abound at this time. Summer beckons and none of the festive crowds or family obligations.
Perhaps I like the pagan nature of Easter too. Ancient cultures celebrated spring, new life and renewal long before Jesus. In Ukraine, egg painting at Easter is a highly esteemed art form. Beautiful patterns and intricate details adorn the apartments and cafés of Kiev with thousands of eggs. This art, or pysanky as its called in Ukrainian, is flourishing in spite of the ensuing crisis.
In Switzerland the joy and mysticism of Easter is revealed in the traditional egg-colouring that takes place. First you pick small, wild flowers and leaves and place them carefully on the surface of your egg. Then you must effectively strap these down with a permeable material. Thin tights or stockings will do. After this, boil your egg in a broth of red onions – and once removed and dried peel away the leaves and material. The resulting plant silhouettes are beautiful and will warm the heart of any child – or adult.
Oh dear, I seem to be getting carried away. Such is the endless charm of Easter. Well, perhaps a diplomatic Easter egg hunt on the shores of Lake Geneva or in the grounds of Camp David would not have been appropriate. Although, saying that, I can’t help thinking that a Kerry-Lavrov egg-painting session might have had more of an impact than any number of summits or initiatives. Who knows – but, for the time being anyway, Happy Easter!
David Plaisant is an associate producer for Monocle 24.